Champagne José Michel et Fils, Special Club, 2012, $69
José Michel comes from one of the oldest winegrowing families in the village of Moussy, just south of Epernay. His family has owned vineyards in the area since 1847. Today he has about 11 hectares of vines in several villages, mostly along the Côtes d’Epernay, planted to 45% Pinot Meunier, 45% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Noir, with an average vine age of 30 years. With vineyards in several sites, he is able to plant his Pinots in clay soils and Chardonnay in calcareous soil. José Michel is one of the original members of the “Club Trésors de Champagne,” or Special Club (see description below) and we featured his 2004 Special Club back in 2011. This month we present his 2012 bottling, a 50/50 blend of Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay from some of his oldest vines, some up to 70 years in age. It gets about 10 grams dosage and is aged partially in large oak casks, with extended time on its lees. The result is an elegant Champagne with delicate, lively bubbles and a perfect balance between the richness and depth of the Pinot Meunier and the clean, pure qualities of the Chardonnay. It has aromas of toasted bread and hazelnuts and soft fruit flavors and while it would be superb on its own, you could also enjoy it with foie gras, Coquilles St.-Jacques, chicken, or lobster.
[Formed in 1971, the “Special Club” (Club Trésors de Champagne) is an association of top grower-producers from the finest areas of Champagne, who are totally commited to excellence and who strive to promote the concept of terroir and estate-bottled Champagne. In outstanding vintage years the club selects, as a group, bottlings that represent the very best of their efforts. The selection process is carried out over time, at various stages of the production process, and only those Champagnes that meet the rigorous club standards at every stage are released with the unique club bottle and labeling.]